Now that my youngest is in the last stretch of his senior year, I find myself talking to several parents and high schoolers about their plans for next year. Most of what I hear about the college-bound majors are the typical, Business, Engineering, Computer Science, Physical Therapy, Nursing, Teaching, Communications, or undecided. Nothing wrong with a traditional route, but it’s glaringly obvious that the high school-age students don’t know of all the, dare I say, “exciting” (or at least I think they are exciting), opportunities that exist in STEAM, specifically in IT, Digital, or Tech fields.

Yes, some cited Computer Science, but their typical exposure is fairly narrow and they relate it solely to spending all day coding. Again, nothing wrong there, but if that is the only recognized “tech” role, there are a lot of students that could be a great fit for other IT roles that they likely are just not aware of. Whenever I engage in a conversation with this group (that is, when I don’t get the eye roll from my son if he’s in the room), I try to help share the basics on other cool roles that are in demand in many organizations that are less well-known.

  • User Experience (UX)
  • Data Analytics and Data Science
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  • Cyber Security
  • IT Project Management

As an example, when you talk to a high school student that has great people skills, is good at getting people to do things, and is organized, starting a career in Project Management jumps to mind. The trick is, what do you major in when you go to college to become a Project Manager or IT Business Analyst? When it’s not straightforward and there isn’t a direct correlation between a college major, and then a logical career option, students don’t even have it on their radar as something to consider.

Along with offering cool and interesting work to do, these lesser-known IT roles are increasingly in demand and are expected to top the job growth charts in the next decade. I recently came across some interesting statistics related to this topic that fascinated me.

Did You Know…

  • The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that data science jobs will grow by 36 percent between 2021 and 2031, cyber security by 35 percent, and UX-related web development and digital design by 23 percent.
  • UX designer emerged as one of Glassdoor’s 50 Best Jobs in America for 2022 based on earning potential, job satisfaction, and overall number of job openings.
  • Fortune recently listed AI and big data among the 10 skills most in demand in a May 1, 2023 article.
  • Harvard Business Review, which labeled data scientist as the sexiest job in the 21st century 10 years ago, says the job is in more demand than ever and will see higher growth than almost any other field between now and 2029.

While project management is a much broader career focus that goes beyond IT, the BLS predicts overall job growth will be seven percent through 2031. The Project Management Institute (PMI) estimates that the global economy will need twenty-five million new project management professionals by 2030 to keep up with demand.

Online tech course providers are also singling out these IT roles as top opportunities. Pluralsight includes cyber security, AI and machine learning, and data science and analysis among its Top 10 tech careers in 2023.

So, with all the potential in these unsung IT jobs, I take this as an IT Professional rally cry… how can we help raise the visibility of the exciting and super-fulfilling career choices that the tech industry has to offer?